“We’ve all put the work in, let’s make sure it shows on Saturday...”
Physically and mentally, Joe Ironside is well-prepared for his third season in CB5 now the batteries have been recharged. But in truth, when isn’t the talismanic figure ready for a challenge?
“Pre-season helps you get that feel. Obviously you’re playing games, training a lot and putting the graft in. It gets to the stage where your body feels ready – we’re all raring to go."
With 29 goals to his name in the amber and black shirt and no doubt full of momentum after consecutive rip-roaring campaigns, the striker remains cautious when revealing his ambitions and expectations.
“I’d like to carry on where I left off, hopefully I can even improve on that. I’ll keep my head down, work hard and see what happens. For me, it’s all about the next game and hoping my opportunity comes to score the goals. Everything else will take care of itself."
When it comes to footballing descriptions, ‘battering ram’ is the quintessential adjective for Joe’s style of play. Whilst he’s yet to conclude a season as United’s top scorer since joining from Macclesfield Town in 2020, there’s so much more to his name – with his astute hold-up play and dirty work pivotal to their successes.
“That’s part and parcel of being a centre forward and the way I play – I’ll continue doing that for as long as I can. Goals are just a bonus to me, but I’ll take them when they come.
“I keep level-headed throughout the game, perhaps I let all of the anger out in training, but really it’s all about remaining focused.”
For the U’s faithful, it comes as no surprise seeing the traditional number 9 in the wars – with opponents equipping their most physical presence on Joe himself more often than not.
“I like to give my fair share out. Again, there’s a lot of good defenders in this league, but I’ll try to get on top of them, win my headers and score a goal or two.”
With supportive teammates and a backroom staff roaring him on, he couldn’t praise the 2022/23 squad thus far enough. It’s clear they’ve already gelled and have a positive influence on each other.
“We’ve got a great team unit, we’ll always be together. Everyone who’s joined the squad over the recent years has fitted in like a glove. I can only see us getting stronger as a group.”
After shaking off the sweltering conditions of late, heat where the forward revealed he spent most of the day in the gym purely for the air conditioning, he went on to explain the importance of nutrition and sleep for an athlete ahead of a gruelling schedule.
Brimming with excitement for season opener and fit and firing, the thought of doing battle with Ironside is probably enough to keep opposite numbers up at night.